Michael Barone, whose principal reputation is as dean of American political minutiae, has always struck me as, at best, a bland commentator on immigration, no more invested in the subject — as a personal or societal concern — than a botanist is emotionally involved with plants.
Surprisingly to me, Wikipedia`s brief entry on Barone
[March 29, 2011] focuses an entire paragraph on immigration:
His commentary has been concerned with the topic of immigration. Perhaps partly as a result of being a descendant of Italian immigrants, Barone takes an optimistic view of contemporary immigration into the US. He says that Hispanic immigration has parallels to the Italian experience and that, given the right circumstances, that current and future Hispanic and other immigrants can become Americanized and assimilated, just as the Italians were.
has dealt decisively with this supposed parallel between Italian and Mexican immigration; see below.)
More in keeping with my view of Barone-on-immigration is his bland reaction to the societally- earthshaking phenomena he explicitly describes in his current analysis (Home Is Where the Growth Is
, March 28, 2011) of 2010 Census results at National Review Online
Coastal California, in contrast, has had a vast inflow of immigrants and a similarly vast outflow of Americans. High housing costs, exacerbated by no-growth policies and environmental restrictions, have made modest homes unaffordable to middle-class families who donâ€™t want to live in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods or commute 50 miles to work.California, for the first time in its history, grew only microscopically faster than the nation as a whole (10 percent to 9.7 percent). Metro Los Angeles and San Francisco increasingly resemble Mexico City and S??o Paulo, with a large affluent upper class, a vast proletariat, and a huge income gap in between.
Barone then rattles on about other implications of the Census, seemingly unaware that, for a member of the immigration-cliche-bound establishment, he`s just made three startling, politically-incorrect points:
1. Immigrants are distinct from Americans. (Implication: We`re not
2. Assimilation isn`t happening ("Spanish-speaking neighborhoods").
3. California`s biggest metro areas are becoming Brazilianized.
The BIG QUESTION
for the American future is whether those sorts of observations are ever going to impinge on the consciousnesses of our self-absorbed elites.
Regarding the supposed similarity between Italian and Mexican immigration, Lawrence Auster`s indispensable extended essay Huddled Cliches: Exposing the Fraudulent Arguments That Have Opened Americaâ€™s Borders to the World
(originally published in 1997, updated in 2010, and freely available online: HTML
) contains the following memorable passage:
Of all the pro-immigration arguments, the parallel between Italians and Hispanics is perhaps the most stupid and offensive. It is true that southern Italian immigrants to the United States were for the most part of a lower socioeconomic class and of traditional Catholic background, and that their descendants have taken longer than some other European-origin groups to move into the mainstream of American life. But Italians never formed an aggressive ethnic lobby as Hispanics have done. They never demanded quota representation in every area of American life. They never formed huge â€?bilingualâ€? establishments. They never promoted a distinct sub-national identity openly hostile to the American nationality. They never formed a huge welfare class. There were never Italian-American academics and elected officials who declared that the United States is a guilty country that has no right to protect its borders.Most importantly, Italians never dominated entire cities and regions, swamping American institutions and customs and setting off a mass exodus of Americans from those areas. Indeed, how could they? People of Italian origin have never comprised more than four percent of the U.S. population. Hispanics already comprise over 12 percent of the U.S. population and (if immigration is not stopped) will comprise 25 percent in a few decades. Their growing presence in California, where they now make up over a quarter of the population, could very well lead to the Quebecization of that state in the near future.The equating of Italians with Hispanics is typical of the false parallels that are so frequently employed by immigration advocates. On the basis of a couple of characteristics held in common by two otherwise very different groups, the immigration advocates conclude that the two groups are essentially alike. In the present instance this argument takes the form of a syllogism:
(a) Most Italian immigrants were of peasant or working class background, with low educational levels.(b) Most Hispanic immigrants are of peasant or working class background, with low educational levels.(c) Therefore, the Hispanics will not change America any more than the Italians did!
On the basis of such fallacious reasoning the immigrationists construct a fantasy world, obstructing the real world in which we live.
[One paragraph break added to Auster`s text above by PN]